Denver Broncos Hammer Kansas City Chiefs 38-3, Clinch No. 1 Seed
Peyton Manning's season began drenched in controversy and skepticism. But throughout a 13-3 comeback campaign, Manning stood inside a whirlpool of what-ifs and answered every last one of them by Week 17.
Three quarters of No. 18 under center was more than enough to get the job done on Sunday, as the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos (13-3) humiliated the Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) and launch into the postseason with a head full of steam.
Manning (23-of-29, 304 yards, three touchdowns) masterfully distributed the ball to nine targets, with Demaryius Thomas racking up 122 receiving yards.
The Broncos defense stifled their opponents, adding four sacks and nine tackles for loss to the unit's collective stat line.
Denver showed no respect to Kansas City's passing game and repeatedly stacked the box, limiting Jamaal Charles to 53 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
But he still bolted for more yardage on the ground than his quarterback, Brady Quinn (7-of-16, 49 yards), managed to gain through the air.
With Sunday's blowout, the Kansas City Chiefs acquired the No. 1 overall pick in next April's 2013 NFL draft. Their offseason begins tomorrow morning.
The Denver Broncos earned the privilege of resting next week when the playoffs begin.
Sunday's box score provided by ESPN.
Final: Broncos 38, Chiefs 3
Denver will take a knee and spare Kansas City any more embarrassment.
The Broncos will enter the postseason as the AFC's No. 1 seed.
The Chiefs will enter the offseason with the NFL's No. 1 pick.
3:15, fourth quarter:
It's amazing that four months ago, these same two squads were considered to be neck-and-neck in terms of talent, and loads of analysts picked Kansas City as their favorite to win the AFC West.
6:48, fourth quarter:
If you refute the claims that Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback to play the game, good luck in trying to trump this talking point:
Peyton Manning: 72 career games with 3 or more TD passes, tied for most in NFL history w/ Brett Favre #chasinghistory— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2012
9:00, fourth quarter:
This should be illegal:
Chiefs have 5 pro bowlers... same as the Broncos. And who says the Pro Bowl doesn't mean anything?— The Program(@theprogramkc) December 30, 2012
14:44, fourth quarter:
Peyton Manning finished the day with 304 yards through the air in three quarters.
Meanwhile, Brady Quinn is still anchored at 44 yards.
1:08, third quarter:
Lance Ball bulldozes his way through the interior of the line and punches it in for seven.
You can now expect Manning to punch his time-card.
6:00, third quarter:
Romeo Crennel didn't hide the fact that he would pursue Manning in the offseason if he became available.
While Peyton Manning automatically adds chalk marks to the wins column—despite the team—Kansas City's record wouldn't be within the same area code, let alone neighborhood, of 12-3 with him.
The Chiefs have been out-coached and outclassed in every facet of the game.
At times, the offensive line looks bamboozled under Daboll's zone-blocking scheme, and Kansas City defenders appear to be thinking as opposed to reacting once the ball is snapped.
9:12, third quarter:
Demaryius Thomas leaps then plucks the ball out of the air with his right hand and narrowly lands inches inside of the boundary.
Denver continues to pour it on.
13:02, third quarter:
Expect a healthy dose of Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman in the second half.
It goes without saying that the Broncos will aim to drain the clock.
And with Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson absent, Kansas City's defensive line likely won't be able to repel Denver's ground game.
:14, second quarter:
Eric Decker hauls in a phenomenal one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone.
And to think that critics wondered if pursuing Manning involved more risk than reward at the beginning of the season.
1:49, second quarter:
Manning has an opportunity to put this game out of reach with another touchdown before the half.
Considering Denver will open the second half on offense—and the fact that Kansas City's offense operates like abandoned-warehouse machinery—the Chiefs' odds of coming back would be slim.
4:00, second quarter:
In case you were wondering—yes, there's a reason why the Chiefs' punter became a Pro Bowler this season.
Kansas City's offense looks as threatening as a poster of Richard Simmons hugging a baby who's holding a kitten.
5:15, second quarter:
Manning sends a laser between Javier Arenas and Kendrick Lewis, eventually finding the hands of Eric Decker.
Denver pushes the lead to double digits.
12:46, second quarter:
Charles came into today's game as the league's third-leading rusher with 1,456 yards.
He and Adrian Peterson are rebounding from ACL tears and constantly dodging stacked boxes due to inept passing attacks.
Both backs have shattered expectations in 2012.
14:05, second quarter:
On the heels of Hillman's turnover, the Denver offense looks discombobulated and out of sync.
Assuming the sky is still blue, Manning will get his offense back on track sooner than later.
1:11, first quarter:
The Denver offense was effortlessly strolling down the field again, but running back Ronnie Hillman coughed the ball up.
Brandon Flowers recovered the fumble and return it 64 yards to the Denver 12-yard line.
But if history is indicative of what to expect, Ryan Succop should jog out onto the field in three...two...
3:00, first quarter:
Manning is coming off a 339-yard Week 16 masterpiece.
Judging by Kansas City's first-quarter coverage, he has a realistic shot of dwarfing that number.
7:22, first quarter:
The Chiefs are making a concerted effort to involve Devon Wylie in the passing game.
Wylie's a rookie slot receiver that pulls double duty as a return specialist. But more importantly, he transforms into an open-field illusionist when given room.
Due to injury, Wylie is only participating in his sixth contest of 2012.
10:04, first quarter:
Manning looked as methodical as ever in his afternoon debut.
Knowshon Moreno capitalized on a crippled Kansas City defensive line—both starting defensive ends are inactive—and punched it in for seven from three yards out.
13:08, first quarter:
The NFL's worst-kept secret: Kansas City will feed Jamaal Charles the ball early and often.
Brian Daboll would be smart to throw a few curveballs Denver's way and take a couple of shots downfield.
Otherwise, the Broncos defense will continue to stack the box.
It will be interesting to see how a banged-up Chiefs offensive line fares against the tandem of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.
Kansas City's starting left tackle, Branden Albert, is sidelined with a lingering back injury, and Ryan Lilja and Donald Stephenson were questionable throughout the week.
On the flip side, Denver will miss the elusive return skills of Trindon Holliday. The second-year returner torched Kansas City for 92 yards on two kick returns in the teams' Week 12 matchup.
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